Day 118 – An Unexpected Surprise
I woke up of my own accord from a squeaky hostel bunk bed at 7:00 a.m. For breakfast I ate the rest of the fruit I got the day prior (nectarine and kiwi) and drank the rest of my kefir and whatever ginger ale did not fit in my water bottles. I made my way out of town feeling good and motivated for the 22 miles ahead of me.
The day started off with a series of steep uphill climbs. A few miles in I landed at Lions Head. There were good views off the mountain range to the southeast. I had a short break there with Walmart, Eeyore, and a few new friends.
We continued on to the tallest peak in Connecticut, Bear Mountain. There was a pinnacle of stacked rocks at the top. We all sat on top and took another snack break. From this point I had only hiked about six miles, but I was feeling beat. On the bright side, much of the day’s incline gain was already behind me.
I finished the remainder of my audiobook, Iron Gold, today. There’s one last book in the series. I may opt to break the streak of four books thus far and slide in a change of pace book before getting back to it. I’ve been enjoying it and I have some theories about what may be coming next.
Before the next ascent of Mount Everett, I crossed into Massachusetts. There are officially four states left to complete. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s so close I can almost taste it. It tastes like no more sodas and candy until my next thru-hike (bittersweet, if you ask me).
But before all that I had a steep descent down from Mount Everett to undertake. That descent was further complicated by a light drizzle. Just enough to keep me cool, but also just enough to wet the rocks. I had a couple slips of my feet on the way down but managed to recover and not have any falls. So far, I’ve only had two falls on the trail since I started Georgia.
Once past the steep rocks, it was just a steady descent down into the pits of hell. The last four miles crossed marshland, fields, and pine forests with swamps and bogs as the forest floor. Doesn’t sound all bad until you consider the mosquito hordes that call this place home. Bug net over my face, sleeves rolled down, 30% Deet on my legs, I felt prepared.
And for the first couple miles, I was. There were a bunch of board crossing and even a bridge that made me feel like a dog in an agility contest at the Westminster Kennel Club. But every time I slowed down to take a photo or check the map, they struck. I probably had ten bites on my exposed hands alone by the time I emerged. Luckily, I got to the road crossing signaling the end of my day. Shuttle driver Hank was there and waiting to take me into Great Barrington.
Hank is an eccentric 24/7 shuttle driver in town. He was taking me to a community center that allows tenting on their lawn for free. On the way, I found out he had picked up Hatcher the day before (Stanley had developed a limp). We went through the drive-thru of McDonalds before dropping me off, and who do I see inside but Hatcher. He was with Walmart and everyone else I left behind at the previous peaks today.
They all had a few rooms at the nearby Travelodge and invited me to sleep on the floor if I was interested. Given the rain and ability to shower, I took them up on the offer. We stayed up until 11:00 chatting and watching National Geographic. Sleep came easy.
Stow away in my pack for day 119 of the Appalachian Trail.
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